(By now we have all seen this video of Susan Boyle, and I must admit, I have been thinking about it for a couple days now. She exposed my shortcomings and my prejudice, with her seemingly unimpressive introduction and her angelic voice. In this guest post, A Faithful Reader offers his thoughts on Susan Boyle.)
“Now God has made everything beautiful in its time. God has also set eternity in the hearts of all people; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
"beauty is its own excuse for being. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson
On Saturday, April 11, 2009 the world changed a bit for the better. This change did not occur through the actions of a political leader; it did not come to the world because some long hard fight for justice finally came to a dramatic end. This change for the better drifted across the world like a ray of sunshine from the most unlikely of places, the audition hall of Britain's Got Talent. From the wings of the stage came Susan Boyle of Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland. Her unremarkable appearance, coupled with her village manner gave little indication that Ms. Boyle would survive the ordeal. The judges, Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden, all known for their biting criticism of new talent, sat ready to stew her alive. Then, in a moment’s time, a heavenly voice rose from the dowdy exterior, filled the room, with such beauty that critics found agreement, sceptics became believers, and the listeners (some 21 million on YouTube alone) were filled with wonder.
What happened was not just a spinster from Scotland wowing the world with her voice, there was something divinely spiritual that emerged. It was one of those teachable moments (hermeneutical moments if you prefer) when pure truth steps out into the light just long enough for anyone watching to be struck by a profound lesson. The lesson here was more than “don’t judge a book by its cover” or even “judge not less you be judged.” Certainly both these wisdom statements apply. The lesson here is that the peace that accompanies something of beauty can so captivate that all worries melt in it’s presence. When Susan Boyle sang, for a short period of time, the horror of war, the reality of the blistering economy, the words of political wranglers, and other shocking things, were dismissed from our minds. The lesson here is that where there is true beauty, there is no need of airbrushes, fashion statements, color coordination and sound mixers. Where there is beauty there is no need for political spin, treaty negotiations, rules and procedures. Beauty dissolves all of that and replaces it with simple peace and awe. Two things the world is in sore need of, and received in proper dosage when Susan Boyle sang.
There are other great truths to ponder coming from Susan Boyle's performance. A person waiting almost 48 years in a society that demands instant gratification for a chance to be heard. Being interviewed and fawned over by the great talking heads of the western world, and insisting that whatever may come will come in baby steps rather than hurried paces. A village so used to a heavenly voice that it was hardly noted at the karaoke in the local pub, or not featured to any great degree in the local church where it was cultivated to near perfection. These are worth pondering, but need not be considered to any conclusion here and now.